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Gaming laptops are ridiculous

In recent years there's been a growing trend toward people getting 'gaming' laptops, essentially high-powered laptops with expensive graphics chipsets in them. When I say 'expensive', these types of laptops tend to start around the $2k mark and end around the $5k mark; whereas the equivalent desktop gaming computer costs half as much. This is bad for a number of reasons.

Reason 1: Laptops don't last long, and gaming laptops even less. While a typical desktop machine which is properly constructed will last anywhere between 8 and 10 years, the typical 'die date' for most laptops I see is about 5. Why? They have less ability to expel heat, leading to greater extremes in temperature and more rapid decay of components. Gaming laptops, which include graphics cards which generate a lot of heat, suffer from this more than others. Due to the lack of space inside the laptop case, the mechanisms to distribute and remove heat tend to be pretty poor. Case in point, I am writing this on an ex-gaming laptop where the intake fans take the air in from directly underneath the case... where my legs are.

Reason 2: Weak performance. Laptop components, including laptop versions of graphics chipsets, are engineered with low power usage as a central focus, both for the reason above and also to reduce battery use when unplugged. For gaming, where performance is of chief importance, this would appear to be a mismatch in terms of focus. As a result, laptop graphics chipsets are typically 10-20% slower than their desktop equivalents.

Reason 3: Fragility. Once a laptop component dies, unless it's the hard drive or the memory, it is very hard (and expensive) to replace. By comparison if a screen gets broken on a desktop computer or a power supply dies, you just buy a new one, and the fix takes 5 minutes. On a laptop you have to find a replacement specific to that model, and, if you can find one, which isn't guaranteed, it'll cost you an arm and a leg to replace, plus a lot of time. The graphics chipset and CPU are typically hard-wired into the motherboard, so if that dies you might as well buy a whole new laptop.

Reason 4: Environmental cost. While most computers take amounts of raw materials roughly the size of a small car to produce, due to points 1 and 3 above the higher rate of turnover for laptops means they are far more destructive to the environment in terms of minerals and disposal. This, despite their lower power usage and smaller form factor. In addition I would note that laptops seem to be viewed by many people as throwaway items. This contributes to the issue.

And anyway; why would anyone need to be 'mobile' with their gaming? What're you gonna do, take it to the beach? In short, if you're doing gaming, buy a desktop or xbox. Everything else is a chump's game.

- Matt Bentley, computer expert at Bentley Home PC Support.
Email info@homepcsupport.co.nz or phone 0211348576.

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